ChatGPT at Capacity Right Now? Try These 9 Fixes.

Two worried users looking at an error screen of ChatGPT being at capacity

If you’re using the free version of ChatGPT from OpenAI, you’ve probably run into the “ChatGPT is at capacity right now” error. Here are some fixes:

Fixes 1-7: The Obvious Stuff

  1. Use it off peak hours: avoid 1pm – 4pm EST
  2. Hit “Refresh” and try again
  3. Log out and log back in
  4. Try it on another device: mobile or desktop
  5. Clear cookies or access ChatGPT from an incognito (private) window
  6. Use a VPN to login from a different IP address
  7. Pay $20/month for ChatGPT Plus, which gets you priority access

If you’re curious about whether ChatGPT is having a “major outage” and is completely down for everyone, you can check DownDetector, or go to OpenAI’s status page:

Status of OpenAI services

Fix 8: Use the OpenAI “Playground”

You’ll notice in the screenshot above, the “Playground” ( is always available. When most else fails, this is your best bet to access the underlying technology of the free (GPT-3.5) version of ChatGPT. After logging in to the Playground, make sure to select the “Chat” dropdown option and then just type your questions and click on “Submit”:

OpenAI playground screenshot

OpenAI gives you 3 months, or $18 worth of free access to the Playground, whichever runs out first. Generally speaking, if you’re only asking questions and not doing some fancy developer stuff, you will run out of time before money — since each chat typically only costs a few cents. If you add your credit card, you can very inexpensively access the ChatGPT anytime you want without paying a monthly fee. OpenAI will charge you once your fees hit $200, which might take many years. The playground doesn’t give you access to the latest GPT-4 model, though.

Fix 9: Use an Alternative Chatbot

Here are the alternatives to ChatGPT and some backdoor ways of accessing it.

Fix 9A: Bing Chat

Microsoft’s Bing Chat ( is a chatbot that uses a modified GPT-4 model that the paid version of ChatGPT uses.

Bing chat drawing of a kitten

PROs: You can ask it to draw images, using the “More Creative” setting. It can access the internet to search for information. It’s free.

CONs: You can only access it using Microsoft’s “Edge” browser, and you need to have a Microsoft account. It has limits on the number of queries, and is quite restrictive about asking for information that may violate privacy laws. It often “shames” you and then declines to answer your questions.

Fix 9B: Google Bard

Bard ( is Google’s counterpart to Bing. Bard is based off Google’s own large language model, PALM-2 (“Pathways Language Model”).

PROs: It’s free and generally available at all times.

CONs: It won’t draw images and still lacks many of the features of ChatGPT. Bard is also persnickety about answering some questions, but not as prissy as Bing Chat.

Fix 9C: Use Poe to Compare Chatbots

Poe ( is freemium service created by Quora. It allows you to choose among multiple chatbots for your query. So even if ChatGPT is at capacity right now, you may be able to access it via Poe. If you want fewer limits on the number of chats, you can pay Poe $20/month to get more or less 1,600 chats per month and choose between multiple chatbots:

Poe service to query multiple chatbots

Fix 9D: Other Chatbots

Now that the large language model technology is out of the bag, lots of companies are creating their own LLMs. Worth checking out:

  • Claude from Anthropic: — one of the smartest chatbots
  • Perplexity from Perplexity AI: — no need to register, just type your question; can access Reddit and
  • HeyPi: — no need to register, and it wants to start a friendly conversation, not just answer your question
  • Chatsonic from Writesonic: — creates images, can query the internet, but is a little bit slower and limits queries to 10,000 words per month, which runs out quickly

To get more tips and tricks like this, register for our “ChatGPT for Productivity” class.

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